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Quality improvement learning

Quality improvement (QI) is essentially about using a set of tools, techniques and ways of working to improve the quality of outcomes for people who use services.

It encourages us to listen to people who use our services, think carefully about what impacts the quality of services, develop ideas to improve experiences, test these ideas at a small scale and improve the way we work. Using a QI approach can help you to keep the needs of the people who use your service at the heart of what you do and enable you and your team to support positive change. Our role is to support QI learning activity in the sector.

We support QI learning across social care, social work and early years by working with partners to raise awareness of QI learning resources and activity, support access to QI learning programmes, develop and promote QI learning resources for social service workers and offer networking and peer learning spaces for workers interested in learning more about QI.

The Scottish Government encourages all public services to use a QI approach to develop services to meet the needs of people who use them. The Three Step Improvement Framework includes the tool known as the Model for Improvement. It is a simple and practical way to help you have improvement conversations and ask good questions.


Our QI learning resource features three Good News Stories which share how staff and organisations in social services are using QI methodology in their work, and an animation to help you get started with the Model for Improvement. These will help you learn about how QI can improve social services and give you the skills to use QI in your own work. They are hosted on the NES QI Zone QI in Social Services page.

The Model for Improvement is in two parts: a thinking part and a doing part. The thinking part prompts you to ask three questions before you try to make any improvements. These questions help you to understand:

  • what you are aiming to improve so your improvement plan is focused and not too large
  • how you will know you have achieved your improvement
  • the changes and ideas you can test, which will support how you improve.

The doing part, sometimes called the Plan, Do, Study and Act (PDSA) cycle supports you to test ideas for change. This part can help you understand if your changes are contributing to an improvement.




QI learning in practice

We support colleagues from across social services to share how QI learning has impacted them and the improvements they are making to their services.
Read their stories here

QI Learning Network

We facilitate a QI Learning Network. The network provides a space for anyone working in social services with an interest in QI learning to share ideas, hear from others and explore QI learning topics in an informal online space. The QI Learning Network meets on MS Teams and in our sessions we aim to discuss useful and relevant topics identified by the people we support.

Some network sessions are peer learning sessions which we record and publish, so you can use them as a learning tool in your service. You can read them here:


Self-directed learning

If you are interested in taking some time to do some self-directed learning on QI tools and techniques, the QI Zone hosted by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is a helpful place to start. Here you will find animations on the QI journey, resources on specific QI tools and online modules you can complete at your own pace. The modules are hosted on Turas which is free, and anyone can register. Register with Turas here.


Formal learning programmes and other networks

We work with NHS Education for Scotland (NES), Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), the Care Inspectorate and others who deliver learning programmes, develop resources or offer other learning opportunities that are available to people working in social services.

The Care Inspectorate supports QI and shares information about its improvement support on the Care Inspectorate Hub.

The Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative (CYPIC) uses QI to improve the wellbeing and life chances of children and young people in Scotland.

The Personal Outcomes Network brings together information, resources, and tools to support a focus on what matters to people, an important part of QI learning.


NES has three levels of formal learning programmes available to people working in social services.

  • Scottish Improvement Foundation Skills – a seven session introductory programme delivered locally by colleagues who have completed the NES Scottish Improvement Leaders programme.
  • Scottish Coaching and Leading for Improvement – a programme aimed at managers who are leading teams.
  • Scottish Improvement Leaders – a programme aimed at those who will develop and lead change within their organisation and local networks.

HIS developed the CEIM Experience Improvement Model for Health and Social Care to keep people who experience services at the centre of improvement work. The model takes a specific approach to understanding people’s real experiences of services and how the team delivering the service use that information to develop ideas for change. We work closely with HIS to support the use of the learning related to this model in social services.


If you want to know more about our QI learning activities, please contact us at or follow us on Twitter.

We’d like to hear your views on our resources and if they have supported your professional development. Please click here to answer some short questions.


Useful links

Three Step Improvement Framework


HIS CEIM Experience Improvement Model

Care Inspectorate Hub - QI support

Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative

Personal Outcomes Network

Register with Turas


Find out more about registering with the SSSC including what qualifications you need and how much it costs.

Supporting the workforce

Discover our free learning resources and how our work can support your learning and development.

Fitness to practise

Read more about our fitness to practise process, registrant responsibilities and how to make a complaint about a worker.